The role of women in society

09 May 2008 00:01:00.000

The role of women in British and Malaysian societies will be examined at the third annual Paragon Human Rights Lecture taking place at The University of Nottingham's Kuala Lumpur campus on 12 May.

The high profile annual lecture, organised jointly by immigration specialists Paragon Law and the University of Nottingham's Human Rights Law Centre, is seen as an opportunity for the leaders of the global human rights movement to address issues of greatest contemporary concern before an audience of local and national dignitaries.

This year's event has Shanthi Dairam, member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and Vanessa Munro, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at The University of Nottingham, as keynote speakers.

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It is anticipated the lecture will attract guests from academia, representatives of the government and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, legal professionals, and members of the diplomatic community and NGOs.


Professor Michael O'Flaherty, Co-director of the Human Rights Law Centre and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, said: "I am delighted that the Annual Paragon Human Rights Lecture is taking place in Malaysia this year. This event will make an important contribution to dialogue between UK and Malaysia-based human rights experts as well as strengthen links between the two campuses of the University.  The topic is particularly timely, with both countries seeking to learn from each other in highlighting and promoting the role of women in society. We are delighted that two such distinguished specialists have accepted our invitation to lecture and are looking forward to a fruitful and enriching debate."


The UK expert, Vanessa Munro, will take a critical stance on UK sex equality reforms. She will consider the role of women in the contemporary British workplace, evaluate the opportunities that women in the UK have for autonomous reproductive decision-making, and reflect upon the impact of a number of recent legislative initiatives that have been designed to protect women in the UK from physical and/or sexual violence. Her Malaysian counterpart Shanthi Dairiam, a prominent figure in the Asian women's rights movement, will highlight the progress made by Asian women in fighting for equality and outline the many obstacles they still have to face in a traditionally male-dominated society.


Kirin Abbas, Director of Paragon Law, said: “Paragon Law has been at the forefront of developing domestic and international law concerning the human rights of women.  For example, we were involved in a House of Lords case where it was established that rape and sexual violence can be held as a weapon of war, and that the effect of this upon women should be considered under the Refugee Convention.


“The firm has a very good relationship with both the universities in Nottingham and we are very proud to be working with The University of Nottingham to co-host the third Paragon Human Rights Law lecture in Malaysia.


“Paragon represents a number of young women who have been trafficked into the UK for prostitution. In a society where legislation on this issue primarily punishes the trafficker, the victim is given little protection by the law and we aim to fight for the rights of these highly vulnerable women and protect their interests.” 


Ms Abbas added that dealing with these young women can be challenging but extremely rewarding, quoting American academic Johnetta Cole who once said: “Educate a man and you educate an individual. Educate a woman and you educate a whole family.”


“This is true of not only a family but also an economy. In a global economy where there is a shortage of skilled individuals, the successful economies will be those that have a good supply of skilled people. It is not in the interest of a country to ignore one half of the population — those economies that are successful on a global scale encourage women to train and be involved in the work force.”



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The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.


It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy).


Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.


Paragon Law was founded in 2003 by its managing director Thalej Vasishta and now employs over 40 people at its offices in Nottingham and India (Punjab). The firm has a formal association with US firm Nejame & Partners that has offices in Orlando and Miami (USA).


Paragon Law provides specialist immigration advice to individuals and businesses, both in the UK and overseas, and acts for blue chip companies, with client's being represented from a range of sectors and includes small to medium sized enterprises.  With 18 specialist lawyers in the area of Immigration Law the team is regarded as one of the largest in the UK and this national award winning firm is also recommended by the Chambers Directory to the legal profession.

Story credits

More information is available from Caroline Przybylla on +60 14 625 3686,; or Thalej Vasishta, Managing Director, Paragon Law, +44 (0)115 9644117,
Tara De Cozar

Tara De Cozar - Internal Communications Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8560 Location: University Park

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